I attended the Gayle Forman signing at Children's Book World in Haverford, PA. She had a nice crowd for a chilly Wednesday in January. Actually, let me re-phrase that - she had a crowd of nice people.
Children's Book World is enchanted. There's the cozy atmosphere, books literally wrap themselves around you. There's always yummy snacks, sometimes themed to match the book, or if David Levithan's in town, it's home made baked treats. Wednesday's menu? Macarons which appear in JUST ONE DAY, Gayle's new book. And chocolate chip croissants. To. Die. For.
Yes, books and flaky pastries are made of win, but the most magical ingredient: people. The owners, the staff, and the customers feel like home. A kind and compassionate home.
Some of you know I sign my books with the words, "Kindness Matters". Some of you know why I write the books I write. Some of you unknowingly say just the right things at just the right moments.
Wednesday night was that kind of night.
Heather Hebert, the store's manager and daughter of Hannah Shwartz, the owner of Children's Book World, provided me with two "just the right things at just the right moment" moments that night.
Heather, a staunch lover of CRACKED, shared with wide eyes that she'd finished reading EMPTY the night before. Then her hand flew up and covered her mouth. Knowing EMPTY and some of the passionate responses it has received I wasn't sure if she'd remove her hand and proclaim love or anger.
"Kate, you did it again," Heather said. She went on to explain how tragic and powerful Dell's story felt to her, and how when she closed the book she made a promise to never let anyone in her life feel as invisible or broken as Dell. I blinked and blinked, standing among beloved books and people, and told her I wanted to cry.
Gayle got her presentation started. She filled the store with her genuine loveliness, sharing personal inspirations for moments in JUST ONE DAY, and then reading the scene (a format I may have to try out at one of my future signings).
The signing line formed, and I chatted it up with the gazillion people I knew--CBW staff included. Then it was my turn. I've never met Gayle Forman so I nervously introduced myself and told her how much I adored IF I STAY. She graciously thanked me. Heather said from behind, "Kate's an author too, Gayle."
Gayle asked me what my book was. I told her about CRACKED and EMPTY. She said, "Oh yeah, I've heard of Cracked."
My mouth unhinged, much like THIS MOMENT.
I pulled myself together and talked publication dates and publishers. Heather peeked her head over my shoulder and proceeded to say the most complimentary things about my writing to Gayle and, and, and...I was speechless. Again. Heather gifted a copy of CRACKED to Gayle right before my very eyes. Gayle asked me to sign it for her. I seriously have no idea what I wrote in that woman's book. All I know is my hand shook the entire time.
Wednesday night turned out to be an unexpected gift to me. Being surrounded by books and people who know and understand me (and my characters) is a treasure I wish I could bottle and wrap and re-gift.